Note for Karen: substitute beef every time you see the word lamb LOL.
I had a day off on Monday and spent part of it defrosting my big chest freezer. It's taken us a while to eat right to the bottom of it, but after taking out The Last Turkey for DS1's visit over the weekend, there was finally little enough left so that I could cram it into the upright kitchen freezer and get going on the defrost. This means a weekend or two will be spent freezer cooking, to fill it up with meals again :-)
I had taken two small leg joints of lamb out, they had been in there for a while because I love lamb and DH doesn't. So the freezer cooking kicks off with the easiest slow-cooked lamb ever, slicing when cold and freezing them in the gravy for me to have when I like :-)
First, put into the slow cooker the following: garlic bulb, cut in half, onion cut in half, both of these unpeeled. Add some celery sticks, snapped in half. Then some carrot, unpeeled but cut in half if they are large - I didn't have any whole carrots, so put some sticks in which hadn't been used for the weekend roast. Nothing needs to be prepped, because all the chunky stuff will be strained off later.
Add whatever herbs you wish, I have bay leaves, rosemary and lemon thyme from the garden.
Next the dry seasonings go in. Paprika, dried thyme, two beef stock cubes, a scattering of black peppercorns. Then a good glug, a glassful at least, of red wine and about 3 tablespoons of tomato puree - I don't measure, just put in a huge dollop LOL. Stir together, lay the lamb joints on top.
Now for the water (cold), put in enough to almost cover the joints. Swish the liquid around the joints a bit so the water mixes with the rest, but leave the joints on their vegetable bed as far as possible.
That's it. I promise you it took me ten minutes to put together, including stepping outside the back door to snip the herbs. It's now around 10pm and I will switch the slow cooker on at 10:30 before I go to bed. Eight hours on low overnight will result in the most wonderfully cooked lamb.
This morning: lift the lamb out carefully, it will be almost falling apart, place in a dish to cool down.
Place a sieve over a bowl and carefully pour the hot cooking liquid through it. Discard all the chunky bits. I then de-fat the liquid in one of those special jugs made for the purpose, but if you leave it to go cold the fat will rise to the top anyway and you can just lift it off when solidified.
I will slice the cooled lamb and either freeze it in some of the liquid, or serve today with the liquid thickened with cornflour for gravy. Don't freeze the thickened gravy, as cornflour based sauces can misbehave when frozen and be strange when thawed. It's easy enough to thicken the liquid you froze it in, at serving time. There should also be enough leftover liquid to freeze as a base for a later soup.
This method makes the lamb much less greasy to eat and beautifully tender. You can also do exactly the same with a beef joint, I usually sear those first but you don't have to.